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Wife battering: views of survivors and perpetrators

Aug 18, 2016, 9:36 AM | Article By: Kaddijatou Jawo

Gender-based violence, particularly wife battering, continues to be a challenge in The Gambia, despite efforts by the government and civil society organisations.

Numerous research reports, including the 2013 Gambia Demographic and Health Survey, said wife battering remains a challenge due to the culture of silence, fear of reprisal, unequal power relations, and undue pressure from family and friends, especially if the perpetrator is a family member.

But why must one beat his wife? What must warrant such beating?  Our reporter, Kaddijatou Jawo, was out and about to have a random discussion with married men and women on the subject.

Fatou Manneh, 35, a resident of Lamin Sanchaba, said she was once beaten by her husband, and she knows that it is not correct for one to beat his wife, because it can lead to injuries and other health complications on her body.

Similar views were shared by Isatou Cham, 52, from Busumbala, who said “wife battering is unlawful, even in Islam”.

“But if you are to beat your wife, there must be a strong justification for you to do so,” she added.

However, according to 27-year-old Bintou Fatty, also from Busumbala, any man who loves his wife will not beat her.

She said she was once beaten by her husband upon a misunderstanding over some financial issues.

For Awa Ceesay, men can beat their wives for going out without their permission and for disobeying them.

Similarly, Mariama Manneh, a 28-year-old in Kunkujang, said husbands can beat their wives if the women failed to adhere to what the men told them.

Twenty-year-old Mariama Janneh said sometimes wife battering is normally the fault of the wife, not the husband.

“If you disrespect your husband or refused anything he told you to do, he will beat you,” she said.

On the other side, Samba Banja, a 60-year-old man, said he has been married for 35 years, but only beat his wife twice and “even that was due to some misunderstanding”.

“But we hardly have any problems nowadays, because we understand and respect each other,” he said.

Ceesaynding Kujabi, 45, said most of the time, it is the fault of the wife to be beaten, but men are used as the scapegoats, “that is what people failed to understand”.

“When you have certain women as wife, you can continue beating them until you are tired, but they will continue to do bad things every day,” he said.

“If you don’t beat, but divorce them all the time, people will say that you are not a good man.  So the only solution for you is to stick to her and continue to beat her until she sees things for herself.”

Some of the men said in the past, when you beat your wife, she will just cry in her heart and let it go; but now when a man wants to beat his wife the woman will say: “If you dare lay your hands on me, you will see what will happen to you”.